Enjoy these hidden gems in Australia, go off the beaten track and see some of the most beautiful secret spots, as well as some edgy hideouts. Also, don't miss the Australian landmarks you need to know.
Hidden Gems in Australia
Between the Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru, there's no shortage of Australian landmarks to steal the crowds.
However, if you’re looking for more unusual things to do in Australia, take a look at this handy list. They're all hidden gems in Australia and they range from the most beautiful places in the country to some places that may not be pretty but they come laced with intrigue. Tourism in this country is so much more than beaches and road trips. All told, there are around 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites plus secret corners, natural phenomena and, quite simply, fun days out.
In short, they're a way to add an extra slice of depth and adventure to a trip Down Under.
So, without further ado, here are some hidden gems in Australia.
7 UNUSUAL THINGS TO DO IN AUSTRALIA
SEE ABORIGINAL ROCK ART IN KAKADU NATIONAL PARK
Kakadu National Park has some pretty impressive statistics under its cork-hat. 10 000 species of insects. 2000 plants. 290 birds. 68 mammals. And more than 120 reptiles.
Of which there is only one that holds the record. The record for size. The record for aggression. And the record for living here unchanged for nearly 200 million years.
The crocodile. But he's not the only draw. There's aboriginal rock art and stunning landscapes aplenty in one of my favourite wildlife spots in the world: Kakadu National Park. It's brimming with beautiful Australian landscapes, just waiting to be discovered.
- Read more about visiting Kakadu National Park here.
- While in the Northern Territory, consider seeking a permit to visit Arnhem Land as well.
BUILD BOATS OUT OF BEER CANS AND SAIL ON THE SALTY SEA IN DARWIN
Mindil, a sandy beach on the edge of Darwin, hosts the Beer Can Regatta each year and has done since 1974.
What began as a good time for the lads with beer, cans, and wet T-shirt competitions has matured into an all-out family affair. Today you’ll find sandcastle contests, soul singers, hand-made butterflies and scented soap for sale.
Plus thong-throwing competitions (it's a flip-flop, guys, I promise.)
Primarily, of course, you’ll find boats. And they’re essentially made from beer cans."
GET YOUR GANGSTER GROOVE ON IN SYDNEY
Take a curious, bespoke bar crawl of Sydney - and uncover its gangster past...
A dark history beats in the streets of Sydney's smallest and coolest bars.
Back in the Razorhurst of the 20s and 30s, sly grog and cocaine became an industrial pursuit in this area. With bars illegal, the trade took place behind the doors of fake laundries and hidden speakeasies. In the absence of firearms, razors became the tool of choice for gangsters who needed to go about their daily killing business. So far, so grim.
Now, though, a change in licensing laws has opened up the small bars in this area. And hipsters hangout here instead.
And so the circle is complete. On the streets where hidden bars and fake laundries used to sell liquor, hidden bars and fake laundries once again sell liquor. The only difference is that this time it’s legal and the razors have gone. And a tour takes in the colourful side of the past without any actual danger.
Try the Great Ocean Walk
The road, the Great Ocean Road, may swoop around the coastline like a luxury car ad run wild, but as impressive as it is, there are still some places it doesn’t reach.
For that, there’s the Great Ocean Walk, a 100km or so path that takes around a week to complete. Think koalas, kangaroos and a whole lot of fun.
TAKE A STREET ART TOUR THROUGH MELBOURNE’S COOL CAFES
Melbourne likes to describe itself as the most European of Australian cities but what does that mean?
The cafes. The coffee. The beautiful boutique shops and bars, narrow streets, arcades of patterned glass and stacks of pastel-pink sugar-dusted French macarons.
And the best way to find them, is through one of Melbourne's Hidden Secret Tours.
Feel small besides magnetic termite mounds
Magnetic termite mounds. It's not the sexiest of word combinations but the reality is pretty striking. It's one of those hidden gems in Australia that makes more sense once you see it for yourself.
Take a surf lesson in Bondi
Yes, OK, so Bondi isn’t unusual. But trying to surf and discovering that you actually can is most definitely unusual. Especially if you’re me.
So, even if you’ve had no success whatsoever in colder climes such as Wales or Cornwall, don’t despair. This could be one of your personal hidden gems in Australia.
There’s something about the warm weather and threat of sharks to focus the mind.
Sign up to a morning’s course with Let’s Go Surfing and chances are you’ll be surfing by the end.
Hidden gems in Australia: Island Escapes
- North Stradbroke Island or "straddie" glitters close to Brisbane on the east coast.
- Kangaroo island lies off the mainland of South Australia, known for its penguins and rocky coastline.
- The Torres Strait Islands in Queensland are home to the Torres Strait Islanders, people with a seafaring culture distinct to the aboriginal cultures found on the mainland.
Visit Coober Pedy, the "opal capital of the world," just to the north of Adelaide. Many people miss this spot but friends tell me it's truly one of Australia's hidden gems.
Hidden Gems in Australia: Overlooked National Parks
Some of the best hidden gems in Australis involve her national parks. From speaking to locals and avid travellers, here's a list of recommended beautiful places in Australia:
- Freycinet National Park - best known for stunning Wineglass Bay in Tasmania.
- Karijini National Park - red earth and pure water in Western Australia.
- Kalbarri National Park - the gorgeous coral coast in Western Australia.
- Wilsons Promontory National Park - close to the main city of Melbourne lies this wilderness escape.
- Tjoritja West Macdonnell Ranges National Park - watch peregrine falcons in the NT to the west of Alice Springs.
What do you think? What sits on your Australia bucket list?
Disclosure – some of these activities I paid for myself and some were hosted because I was reviewing them. None had the right to get mentioned because otherwise that would be, well, deeply unpleasant.